Where’s The Joy in The Work?

Brittany Hodge

It’s Just Not Fair

Whether you’re a Christian or not, you’re probably aware that the world around us isn’t fair according to human standards. We see and experience both the joys and sorrows that accompany this truth in our daily lives. Sometimes, we are given an unexpected gift from a friend that we did nothing to deserve. Sometimes, on the other hand, we experience the death of a loved one that we certainly didn’t cause or even anticipate. So, if there doesn’t seem to be any reasoning as to why something good or bad happens, then what’s the point in hard work and trying to do what’s right? Through the parable of the vineyard workers in Matthew 20, Jesus shows us how, through God’s generous nature, we can truly answer the question at hand: where’s the joy in the work?


The Generosity of The Landowner

In this parable, the landowner is looking to hire workers for his vineyard. He hires various people at different times during the day. When the day draws to a close, some workers have obviously worked longer hours than others. As the workers are being paid for their labor, a few workers notice that they are being paid just as much as those who were hired near the end of the day. They are angered and frustrated by their unfair mistreatment.

The landowner then proceeds to ask them why they are jealous that he is so generous. If we put ourselves in the shoes of those who worked a shorter duration, then we would be grateful. How overjoyed we would be at the generosity of the landowner to have received a whole day’s pay for just a few short hours of work. On the other hand, if we had worked an entire day and earned the same as those who had only worked a few hours, then we could understandably feel that we deserve an increase in pay and feel that we’ve been taken advantage of.


A Love We Can’t Earn

In a human-to-human relationship, this generosity is incredibly frustrating. However, in our relationship with our heavenly father, this generosity is an incredible gift. God does not care if you choose to follow him when you’re 13-years-old or when you’re 80-years-old. God does not keep a record of who has been a Christian the longest. Nor does He less value in those who come to Him later in life. He simply desires for all to know and love Him. Likewise, He desires for us to love others as He has loved us.

We can’t and don’t have to earn His love and generosity. God freely gifts these to us—even on our worst of days. What a relief to know that we don’t have to be perfect and neither does anyone else. God simply cares that we are trying our best because that is literally all we can do. Only He can make up for our shortcomings as imperfect humans.


Eyes on The Prize

So, as we toil along in this world, we must try our best to keep our focus on Who we are working for. It is not simply about the work at hand. We must understand that our strivings are not in vain, even if unnoticed here on earth. Only then can we be able to find joy in our hard work. Only then can we know that God sees our hearts and our intentions for the good of ourselves and others.

Just as God has been so gracious to us, we must also be gracious to those around us… Even those we may not agree with or particularly enjoy being around. If we are focused on our God and what He has done for us, we can experience joy. Joy is found in our being a little more like Jesus in our daily interactions and in our strivings in this life. Here is where we can find joy in the work.